Relationship Building

Goodbye Sales, Hello Relationships

By C.J. Hayden, Author, Get Clients NOW

How many times today has someone tried to sell you something? Sales messages arrive by e-mail, postal mail, fax, radio, magazines, newspapers, TV, and your web browser; salespeople write you, call you, and approach you in the store or showroom. Are you even listening any more? How often do you actually buy something because someone you didn’t know tried to sell it to you?

Your customers are just like you. They are not only tired of being sold to, most of the time they don’t even see or hear it. Overwhelmed with communications, they tune out the vast majority of the sales messages they are presented with just in order to get through their day. Recently, after attending a race plastered with Coca-Cola logos, a survey revealed that only a third of the attendees could remember who the sponsor was.

Sales and marketing experts are calling this the Spam effect. With so many communications arriving all the time, your customers are filtering out all but the most essential information they receive not just via the Internet, but by mail and phone as well. If they don’t know who you are, you don’t get through. More than ever before, customers want to do business only with people they already know, like, and trust.

Relationship Selling What’s a salesperson to do? The answer lies not in trying harder to sell the old way, but in changing the way you sell. Relationship selling, simply put, is translating all the effort you currently give to selling into building relationships with people instead. Once enough people in your marketplace know, like, and trust you, sales are the natural result.

Building relationships is something we humans do naturally. We talk on the phone, have coffee or lunch, and work or play together. When you need to make a purchase, you call someone you know. If you don’t know anyone who offers that product or service, you ask the people you do know. That’s how most business actually happens.

The goal of relationship selling is to know a large enough pool of people so that all the sales you need come to you, instead of you having to go out and find them.

Here are the five requirements to make relationship-selling work:

a) You have to like the people you want to sell to. You need to truly enjoy their company — this isn’t something you can fake.
b) You must care about their problems, so when you tell them how your product will solve those problems, you are helping them, not selling to them.
c) You have to believe in your product or service 100%. You want your customers to trust you, so that means you have to be honest with them.
d) You must be patient. Relationships take time to grow, and can’t be rushed. You will make sales by building relationships, but you won’t get it tomorrow.

You need to have a plan. Building the right relationships won’t happen by accident.

If the idea of relationship selling appeals to you, but you don’t meet the first three requirements, there’s only one way to solve the problem. You need to find a different target market, or a different product to sell. Relationship selling is based on authenticity, genuine concern, and honesty. It’s not a sales technique that can be simulated without possessing those basic qualities.

Who to Relate to The starting point for relationship selling is building a pool of contacts with which you can exchange referrals, introductions, connections, and information. Here are some categories of individuals who should be in your contact pool:

a) Customers – You already look to them for referrals, but if you get to know your existing customers better, you may also uncover additional needs they have that your company could fill.
b) People in your target market – They are not just potential sources of business, but also can be excellent referral sources once they learn to trust you.
c) Others who serve your market – People who provide any sort of product or service to your potential customers. They can uncover needs for you with their clients or send you referrals.
d) Colleagues and competitors – The more people in your own line of business you know, the more information you can lay your hands on, making you a more valuable resource to your prospects.
e) Other salespeople – No matter what they sell or who they sell to, other salespeople understand the value of referrals. They’re used to exchanging leads and information, and know the payoff of keeping in touch over time.
f) High-profile organizations – Building relationships here can send you highly-qualified referrals. When someone at a university or professional association recommends you, your credibility has already been established.
g) Champions – These are the people in your personal booster club, who tell everyone how great you are. They may never have been customers; they just recommend you whenever they can.
h) Centers of influence – They are the folks who seem to know everybody, and because they have that reputation, people call them when they need a recommendation. You want your name to be in their database.

Begin by organizing all of your existing contacts in any of the above categories in your contact management system. Don’t stop with your customer list — use your personal address book, holiday card list, alumni directory, membership rosters, and all the business cards you’ve thrown in a drawer. Your goal is to compile a list of people who already know your name. Be sure to include personal acquaintances and relatives as well as business contacts.

Then choose from your pool of contacts a group of people to start building stronger relationships with. The number can be as few as 30 or as many as 300 depending on your personal bandwidth. Don’t worry if you can’t yet see how your contacts will turn into sales. People who fit into any of the categories described above are excellent candidates to either become customers or refer them.

Start to Relate Make a phone call or drop a note to each person on your list. Your aim is not to sell them anything or even to ask for referrals, but for the two of you to get to know each other better. Your relationship should be based on reciprocity. An excellent approach is to tell your contacts you want to expand your business network and you would like for them to be in it. Ask them what they need right now in their business or career, and listen carefully for how you can help them find it. A basic principle of relationship selling is giving before you get.

When a contact needs referrals, look elsewhere in your contact pool for people who might become a customer or be able to refer one. If a contact is looking for a new job, give him or her three names of people you know who might have job leads. Help your contacts solve problems in their businesses, by providing information, suggesting resources, or making connections between them and others who might have ideas.

Make it a habit to keep track of industry leaders, trade events, and new developments in your field, and routinely share that information with others. If you can become a trusted resource for leads and information in your industry or geographic area, doors you used to have trouble getting your foot in will start opening for you.

That’s the giving part. The getting part works best when you ask your contacts not, “Who do you know that would like to do business with me?” but instead, “Who else do you think would be a good person for me to get to know?” Keep the focus on building your network instead of your business. Of course, in the context of getting to know each other better, you will be telling your contacts more about the products and services you sell. But now that conversation will be happening naturally instead of being a sales pitch.

How it Works This process of building relationships may sound a bit imprecise. But in fact, it can be done quite systematically. Kelly, sales representative for an accounting system, was given a Northern California territory. First, she started identifying which companies in her territory could potentially become customers, based on the number of employees they had. Her intent was to eventually have a complete list of every prospective customer in her territory.

As Kelly added each company to her list, she found out the name of their CFO. Then she looked for ways to eventually meet that CFO through her contact pool. Could someone she knew introduce her? Did the CFO belong to an association where they might meet? Who in her network could give her more information about that CFO to help make a connection? Kelly sought out how to make personal contact with each CFO, not to sell to them but to get to know them.

After Kelly had managed to connect with a CFO through her relationship network, she kept in touch at least once per quarter through a wide variety of means. She invited CFO’s to coffee and lunch, chatted with them on the phone, sent them articles and white papers through the mail, invited them to attend industry events, mailed congratulations when the CFO was in the news, and more.

Kelly always had a new tidbit of industry news to share when she got in touch. In every approach, she tried to let the CFO’s know that she was available to serve as a resource for them in any way possible. Not every CFO was responsive to Kelly’s relationship-building efforts, but enough of them were that she got to know some of them quite well. Over time, they all got to know her name.

As a result of Kelly’s relationship building, her customer base increased exponentially. She was in contact with so many people in her target market who considered her a trusted resource that it would have been almost impossible for a company to consider an accounting system implementation without her name coming up first. And the best thing about her method of selling was that people welcomed her phone calls instead of avoiding them.

Keep it Going How you decide to build stronger relationships will depend on the type of person you are and who you are making contact with. Some people you might call for lunch twice a year, others you could chat with on the phone occasionally, and still others you may send an article or announcement to every month or two. However you approach it, any salesperson can reap the rewards of relationship selling by remembering to serve as a resource, strive for reciprocity, and give people reasons to get to know you better.


Truth, Trust, and the Masks We Wear

By Paul McCord, President, McCord Training

“No, Paul, I didn’t spend any time prospecting yesterday. I woke up and just didn’t feel enthused; didn’t want to be here. Whenever I force myself to prospect when I feel that way, I always feel like I’m wearing a mask trying to be someone I’m not. If I can’t be true to who I am, I’m not serving my clients, my company, or myself well.”

Dana (not her real name) is one of my newest coaching clients. She is a strong producer selling relationship management software to small to mid-size companies in the northeast part of the country. She finished the year well ahead of quota. She isn’t the only salesperson I’ve spoken to who has an ethical issue with “being someone I’m not.” In fact, she’s not the first seller who has referred to feeling like they’re being insincere, false, or lying when acting one way while thinking or feeling another way.

We may as well get the truth laid out on the table right now—we ALL wear masks. We wear them a lot.

Society demands we wear them.

Professionalism demands we wear them.

We want to wear them.

While talking with Charlie Green of and Jeb Brooks of The Brooks Group about this article, both pointed out a book written in the 50’s by Erving Goffman titled The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life where Goffman contends that we are always, 100% of the time wearing some kind of a mask.

Although I’m not sure I buy the idea that our whole life is nothing but a continual, uninterrupted series of masks, I do believe that the concept that we all wear masks at times—especially in business–is pretty self-evident.

The question isn’t whether we wear masks, the question is: are the masks we wear ethical? And if they’re ethical, do they inhibit trust? At an even more basic level, are they designed to lie or to help us tell the truth?

Certainly we are all familiar with the mask so often associated with salespeople—that of the fake friend, our false ally who is going to help us get the best deal possible, fighting for us against his or her unreasonable manager, all the while lying and double-dealing without shame in order to maximize the sales price and, thus, their commission.

That mask of lies is what many salespeople associate with our profession and consequently they try to distance themselves from that image by inventing all kinds of titles (masks) for themselves that are designed to communicate they are NOT salespeople—they’re ‘advisors,’ ‘consultants,’ ‘customer advocates,’ ‘customer guides,’ ‘account managers,’ and dozens of other, mostly meaningless, titles.

Fortunately, although still used by hucksters and con artists, the mask above is slowing being forced out of the legitimate sales world as more prospects become educated about their potential purchases long before engaging a salesperson. For most of us that clichéd mask isn’t in our hip pockets any longer.

But many other masks are. A few examples:

The, “Ms. Prospect, I’m really excited to speak with you this morning” mask when in actuality we feel crappy and would rather be doing anything other than speaking with her. This is the one that Dana feels would be being dishonest with her prospects if she put it on when feeling like she’d rather be anyplace else than on the phone prospecting.

The, “yes, I understand how grievous a transgression it is being 5 minutes late to the meeting. I’m sorry, it will never happen again” mask when in actuality we’re thinking “geeze, are you kidding? The transgression is your pathetic excuse for a meeting that sucks the life out me and everyone else.”

The, “I know that your budget is tight and this is a tough decision, but my solution will increase your sales and put significant dollars on your bottom-line” mask when you’re actually thinking “OK, you have more money than you know what to do with, you cheapskate; knock it off with the games and let’s get down to business.”

Certainly salespeople aren’t the only ones who wear masks. Sales managers wear their own masks, especially when dealing with their sales team and upper management.

Typical sales manager masks are:

The, “Bryan, man, just apply what we’ve been working on and you’re going to be just fine. I know it’s been tough, but I have every confidence that you can be a great producer” mask while thinking “Man, what was I thinking when I hired this dimwit? What a goofball, it’ll take a miracle for him to last another month.”

And the “yes, sir, I talked to the team this morning and we’re on it. You’ll see results by the end of the week” mask while thinking “Last week the crisis was to sell the XB2 systems and this week the future of the world depends on us forgetting about everything else and pushing the YS add-on. You guys have no idea what you’re doing, do you?”

And, of course, there are a million other masks that we wear for our prospects, a different set for our clients, another set for our managers, and an even different set for our colleagues and co-workers.

Mask after mask is put on and taken off every day.

Are we justified in wearing them? What happens to trust if we’re caught wearing one by our prospect or client?

These are really tough questions because, as Charlie pointed out in our discussion, a mask is by its very nature deceitful—at a minimum it’s hiding something we don’t want seen or is projecting something we don’t feel at the moment; and certainly most of us would consider being deceitful as bad. Quite a dilemma—how can we be doing something that is considered bad and call it good? Would Dana have been engaged in unethical activity if she had put on that “great to connect with you” mask when she didn’t feel like prospecting?

Tough questions. My initial reaction to Dana was that the issue isn’t whether it is right or wrong to put on a mask because the mask itself is neutral—neither good nor bad. The determining factor as to whether a particular mask is ethical or unethical is its intended purpose—why we put the mask on in the first place.

Was our intent to help build a relationship–or to manipulate someone into doing something they might not otherwise do?

Were we trying to be sociable and considerate–or were we simply trying to catch someone off guard in order to slip something by them?

Was it with the intent of being constructive–or with the intent of destroying?

As I thought about this issue over the next few days, I decided to ask a couple of friends what their thoughts were; thus my conversation with Charlie, Jeb, and Daniel Waldschmidt of

There seems to be two central points of agreement between the four of us:

  1. Masks are an absolute necessity. As Charlie pointed out, without masks the very concepts of etiquette and manners cease to exist. Or if we consider the deception of masks to be bad, then we would have to condemn the concepts of manners and etiquette since conforming to the rules by putting on the appropriate masks would be bad acts in and of themselves. He sees that we put on masks for one of two reasons: either out of fear or out of respect, politeness and etiquette.

    I’ll add a third: to acquire something we want that we don’t believe we can get without being someone or something we aren’t. (To be fair, I suspect Charlie would file this as just another form of a fear based mask.)

    Certainly no one would want to live in a world without rules governing how we act with one another. In the 60’s, many of us of the Boomer generation decided that we needed to be “true to ourselves.” We took that to mean that doing anything we didn’t feel like doing—or not doing that which we wanted to do—was a disingenuous act, conforming to the bourgeois norms of a crass and corrupt society. We dispensed with much of society’s rules of behavior (and unwittingly adopted our own rules of behavior which we rationalized by “believing” the socially accepted acts we conformed to within our group were our own spontaneous actions that emanated from the real “me”). It wasn’t pretty.

    Most of us eventually grew out of it (a few, sadly, have been permanently lost in a stupor of blue smoke while clinging to their hookah) as we realized the masks of broader society were not only necessary unless we were willing to live in a minor subculture, they were more comfortable and in many ways more genuine than the masks we adopted when we were just ‘being true to ourselves.’ As Dan Waldschmidt put it, “Being sanctimonious about ‘not wanting to be who you’re not’ isn’t cool for pedophiles, rapists, or molesters. Why would sales execs claim any exception?” (Or sanctimonious 60’s youth for that matter.)

    So, no less in our professional life, as our social life, masks are mandatory. Business etiquette demands we treat our prospects, clients, and business associates with respect—even if we don’t like or respect them. Professional ethics demand that we perform at the highest level and with complete courtesy even with a prospect or client who is rude and hateful.

    Business success demands that we interact and deal with our prospects, clients, and company associates with dignity and respect—and total professionalism even when we don’t feel like it. Just try going a week being “true to who you are” and see how successful you are.

  2. Most masks are ethically neutral—it’s your underlying reason for putting the mask on that determines whether the mask is ethical or not.

    Certainly some masks, such as the stereotypical seller mask introduced above, aren’t ethically neutral because they’re designed for one purpose—to defraud someone by making them think they are getting something they aren’t (usually a better or product than they’re really getting) or to coerce them into buying something they don’t want to buy.

    What about the other masks we identified above?

    But what about the mask Dana felt was trying to be someone she isn’t? Is that mask bad or good? Actually it could go either way. In Dana’s case the intent isn’t to harm but rather to be able to efficiently utilize her time prospecting even when she doesn’t “feel” like prospecting. Her intent is, as Jeb put it, to “increase the comfort level” of the people she’s speaking with. She has a “genuine intent of getting the most out of an interaction.”

    If, on the other hand, Dana’s intent was to open a door by appearing to be something she isn’t with the intent to harm, whether through fraud, lying about the product or service to get a sale, or for any other illicit reason, wearing the mask would be unethical because it is being worn with bad intent.

    Let’s look at the mask warn by the sales manager who encouraged his salesperson to apply what they’ve been working on together and he’ll be just fine even though the sales manager doubts the salesperson will make it. Again, this mask can go either way ethically. If the manager’s intent was to try to encourage the salesperson with the hope, no matter how small, that the salesperson will get it in gear and turn things around, the mask is ethical as the intent is to produce a positive outcome.

    On the other hand, if the intent of the mask is simply to get the salesperson out of the sales manager’s hair until the manager can work out the details of firing the person, the mask is unethical as it’s only intent is to deceive the salesperson into believing he is working to save his job when in fact the decision to fire him has already been made. Unfortunately, this unethical mask is worn by many, many sales managers every day.

    The next few masks are a bit more difficult to deal with.

    The, “yes, I understand how grievous a transgression it is being 5 minutes late to the meeting. I’m sorry, it will never happen again” mask would certainly seem to be hiding not only the salesperson’s feelings about the value and content of the sales meetings they are required to attend, but possibly a general disrespect for his or her sales manager. If it is simply a mask hiding their evaluation of the value of the sales meetings, I think the mask ethical in order to maintain civility and out of respect for their manager (although I would certainly think they should have a discussion with their manager about their perceived value of the meetings). If, on the other hand, the mask is really one of many that are covering their attitude toward their manager, the mask is unethical because, to borrow a phrase from Charlie, “there’s too much of an honesty gap.”

    I believe the mask where the sales manager questions to himself whether or not senior management has a clue as to what they are doing is in and of itself unethical, again for the reason that there is simply too much disrespect being hidden.

    In both of these instances the individual must take action to correct the honesty gap—either a discussion with the sales manager or senior management to clear the respect issues (uh, yeah, that probably won’t happen) or moving to an organization where they do respect their management.

    The salesperson who questions the lack of available dollars to purchase his or her product or service has, in my opinion, a far different issue—making the assumption that the prospect is lying. This certainly isn’t an infrequent reaction—a great many of us instinctively make this assumption as soon as we hear monetary objections. But are we justified in making the assumption? In most cases, I doubt it. Are we justified in masking our belief? Yes, I think so. If one of the valid reasons for adopting a mask is with, as Jeb said, the “genuine intent of getting the most out of an interaction,” then masking our suspicion is justified and ethical. That doesn’t mean, however, that the suspicion itself might not be an indication that we need to take a close look at how we view our prospects and clients. Although the mask itself may not be unethical, our view of our prospects and clients might.

OK, so we’ve narrowed it down to the idea that masks are necessary and for the most part whether or not a particular mask is ethical is dependent upon the reason the mask has been put on.

What does that mean for us as sellers—if anything?

If we all are wearing masks, what’s to keep us from wearing the mask that will get us what we want, even if that mask is unethical? What happens if we are caught by a prospect or client wearing a mask?

At its core, understanding that we are usually–if not always–wearing a mask gives us the ability to gain some control over the masks we wear. It gives us the opportunity to make some ethical decisions we might not otherwise make and that we might wish not to make by forcing us to analyze the reasons we put on the masks we wear. Are we putting a particular mask on in order to better serve a prospect–or to better serve our desire, no matter the ethical cost?

Charlie gives a great summary of the role masks play in our professional lives, so I’ll quote him at length:

Fear-based masks:
“If I wear a mask in front of you out of fear, it is to protect myself from you. Perhaps to project myself from your judgment, or to keep you from taking something I have, or to keep you from getting something I want. Inherent in fear-based use of masks is a bad intent: to keep you from seeing some truth about something (usually some truth about me).

“So fear-based masks are inherently oppositional–they are rooted in trying to keep one party from knowing what’s going on with another.

“So–what does a fear-based mask do? It triggers every fear both a buyer and seller feel. What is he really saying? Does he actually mean that? What am I not hearing here? What’s the real thought balloon? How do I know he’s not saying something different to someone else? How do I know he’s not taking all my good stuff and spreading it around to my competitors?

“The fear-based response triggered by a mask leads to suspicion, counter-lies, deceit, covering up, shading of meanings, white lies, and a host of other modes of deception that result in more of the same reciprocally in the other party.”

Respect-based mask:
“The other reason for masks is as a sign of respect, politeness, etiquette. I rise as someone I respect enters the room; I smile at an elder (or a child); I nod my head in a sign of acknowledgement when I listen to a prospect describe his or her needs. It may well be that I don’t feel like standing up, or smiling, or even that I disagree with someone–but politeness, respect, etiquette dictate a larger social reality–that we have evolved hundreds of little social rituals by which we acknowledge the legitimacy of the Other, the person in front of us, whether it is elderly Aunt Mildred, the head of sales at Xerox’s copier division, or a stranger on the street (in most towns, anyway).

“By contrast: respect-driven masks are an elaborate social ritual we go through to recognize our commonality, rather than our differentness. They break down barriers, rather than erecting them. They make it possible to live both as a corporate representative and as a human being, by emphasizing the things we have in common. The ‘masks’ include our business card stock; the cut and fabric of our clothing; our choice of ties; and all this of course is before, ‘Oh, you grew up in the Ozarks too, eh?’ Or the East Coast, because the locale doesn’t matter.”

I’m in general agreement with Charlie—but with the recognition that there are those exceptional mask wearers who are so comfortable in their fear-based or illicit acquisition-based masks they don’t create the typical response in their victims– Bernard Madoff and Allen Stanford quickly come to mind.

As sellers we must be ever mindful of why we put on the masks we do. Are we sincerely trying to connect with our prospect or are we trying to manipulate them? Are we acting out of respect and desire to communicate or are we acting out of a desire to create a particular beneficial outcome for ourselves no matter the cost to the prospect or client?

The masks we wear telegraph our intent and thus can either help establish and strengthen a bond of trust with the other person or they can create a feeling of unease, caution and suspicion.

The question isn’t are you going to wear masks; the question is are you going to consciously put on ethical masks that build trust and communication or are you going to put on unethical masks designed to manipulate and control your prospect for your gain irrespective of the cost to the prospect? It’s your choice. Sooner or later you’ll reap the true value of the masks you wear—just ask Madoff and Stanford.

13 Customer Service Facts

By Michael A. Aun, Speaker and Founder, Aun Insurance Agency

Over the years, our firm has had extensive dealings with all aspects of industry. Two big questions always surface when industry huddles to make decisions on marketing their products.

First, why do people do business with a particular firm? In today’s highly competitive industrial environment, customers have literally dozens of choices in most cases. Why choose you?

The second question that arises is why do they keep coming back? In the course of our research to try to answer these questions, we uncovered at least 13 customer service facts.

First, our research shows that you can’t motivate anyone. People have to be motivated on their own, or they won’t do what you wish them to do. Motivation is an internal thing, not an external thing. We concluded that rarely could a particular company in a particular industry truly motivate anyone to do business with them.

The second thing our research tells us is that all people are motivated. Hold it… one minute you say people can’t be motivated and then you say all people are motivated. Which is it? People are motivated – many times negatively, but nonetheless, they are motivated.

The third thing we’ve learned about the business of motivating people to buy from you is that they will do business with you for their reasons not yours.
To that end, our research indicates a number of key ‘Customer Service Facts’ about why clients buy and why they do or don’t remain loyal to the people with whom they initially do business. Here are the thirteen facts.

Fact #1
Dissatisfied customers tell an average of ten other people about their bad experience. Twelve percent tell up to twenty people.
In very simple terms, bad news spreads rather quickly. Don’t think for a moment that your poor performance in servicing your client goes unnoticed. Not only does it go noticed, but you also pay a very dear price for that kind of publicity.

Fact #2
Satisfied customers will tell an average of five people about their positive experience. Conversely, the good news, unfortunately, doesn’t spread so quickly. To the contrary, the bad news moves twice as quickly as the good. While customers do appreciate good service, they either don’t reward it quite as soon or they don’t reward it at all.

In most cases, customers have come to expect good service as ‘part of the deal’. While they do expect it, rarely do they get it. The ‘bum rap’ here is that the bad apples are causing problems for the whole bushel.

Fact #3
It costs five times more money to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. Before you go out investing hundreds or even thousands of dollars chasing after new clients, think about the acres of diamonds in your own backyard.

The people that you’ve done business with previously thought enough of you at some point to buy from you. Why not go back and re-cultivate that relationship? It will cost you one-fifth of the cost of finding a new client.

Fact #4
If 20 customers are dissatisfied with your service, 19 won’t bother to tell you. 14 of the 20 will simply take their business elsewhere.

Most customers just don’t want the hassle of having to straighten a problem out. They know that, in many situations, it’s their word against the word of the company. Who needs the aggravation? They simply take their business somewhere else.

Unfortunately for the salesperson, they will end up losing the business and may not even know the reason why. That’s why it’s critical to do follow up surveys to check on your performance. Ask questions like:

  • Were you satisfied with our service?
  • If not, what can we do to improve?
  • Had you been the sales/service person, what would you have done differently in this transaction?
  • Why did you choose to do business with us?
  • Is there any other way we can be of service to you?

Many will say, “By asking these questions, you are just opening yourself up for criticism”. Perhaps you are, but that is the intent of the questions… to find out what’s going wrong.

Always remember to separate the criticism of the performer and the performance. When the performance is under attack, there’s room for growth. When one attacks the performer, many times that criticism is ‘value judging’ in nature. We should listen to those remarks, but not support them. Usually they are not constructive in nature.

Fact #5
Up to 90% of dissatisfied customers will not buy from you again, and they won’t bother to tell you why.

Statistically speaking, you would be lucky if 10% of your unhappy customers would come back and do business with you again. Most customers become dissatisfied when the salesperson violates their trust.

Trust, in any relationship, once violated, negates the relationship. It takes a mighty forgiving customer to let you stick him or her twice. Honesty in any relationship is not conditional. Lincoln said you are either unconditionally honest or you are not honest at all.

Fact #6
96% of dissatisfied customers do not complain of poor service. They figure, “What’s the use? Nobody’s listening!” Maybe they’re not used to getting service after the sale. Many feel they are victims of a crime. The sales person has their commission. Now he or she will simply ignore the pleas of the client.

As a sales or service person, your responsibility is to return calls the same day when a complaint comes in.

So when a sale is made, make it clear to the client that you welcome their input and that you would be disappointed if a problem exists that you were unaware of. This permits the client to let you know that they are experiencing a problem.

Fact #7
In many service industries (yours included), quality of service is one of the few variables that can distinguish a business from its competition.

In many cases, there’s not a nickel’s worth of difference between the vast majority of products and services that you and your competition offer.

The only appreciable difference is in the service rendered by the sales and service people. For 99.9% of your clients, the SALES AND SERVICE PEOPLE are the company. Most of the time, they are the only people with whom the client will ever be in contact.

Fact #8
The first 30 seconds of a call or meeting sets the tone for the remainder of the contact. The last 30 seconds are critical to establishing a lasting rapport.

You only get one opportunity to make a first impression… don’t screw it up! If you want to be accepted as a professional, you must look and act the part. If you look and act shabby, you will be perceived as shabby. If you plant peas you get peas, not corn. People will expect of you what you expect of yourself. What you’ve invested in yourself.

Fact #9
Providing high-quality service can save your business money. The same skills that lead to increased customer satisfaction also lead to increased employee productivity. You can kill two birds with one stone. The same things that make customers happy make your employees happy.

Have your employees put a big smile on their faces. People want to do business with winners. They want to do business with happy people. People don’t smile because they’re happy, they’re happy because they smile.

Fact #10
Customers are willing to pay more to receive better service. You remember ‘Marketing 101’. What do you get when you have a high demand for something and an extremely low supply? The price goes up, of course. The price (in case of service) is the loyalty the client has to you and your firm. If you provide good service, they pay you loyalty.

Loyalty means they will do business with you again. And remember, it only costs one-fifth as much to do business with an existing customer as it does to find a new one.

Fact #11
95% of dissatisfied customers will become loyal customers again if their complaints are handled well and quickly.

Let’s face it; people don’t want to admit they made a mistake initially when they decided to do business with you.

80% of the decision to purchase is generally made on emotion. Only 20% is made on logic. But they use logic to justify their reason to do business with you.

They want to say to themselves that their decision was a right one, a logical one. They are more willing to forgive, if for no other reason than to ratify their initial decision to do business with you.

Fact #12
A good sale is GOOD SERVICE.

Part of every sale should be an extensive overview of the service you intend to render as part of the sale.

You should promise and do a periodic review of the client’s situation. You should deliver periodic reports on the progress of the contract. You should stay in touch with periodic ‘non-sales’ visits designed to build goodwill with the customer.

In telling the client this in advance, you prepare them for your eventual follow up contact. But you must follow up. Promise them a lot, but deliver a little more!

Fact #13
Good service leads to increased sales.

People love to talk about rare experiences, like actually receiving good service from their sales representative. Work hard to earn their respect and they will repay you royally by telling their friends and associates.

It starts with good customer service. After all, our customers are the lifeblood of our business.